Puerto Rico Suicide Rate Soars In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Maria

The rate of suicide reportedly increased to almost one suicide per day in Puerto Rico in November.

The suicide rate in Puerto Rico has reportedly increased after Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the island. 

According to a recent report released by the Commission for the Prevention of Suicide, suicide rates increased to almost one suicide per day in Puerto Rico in November.

At least 227 Puerto Ricans committed suicide last year, a 16 percent increase compared to 2016, according to the report released from the commission, which is part of the Department of Health of Puerto Rico.

After Hurricane Maria, 26 people committed suicide in November. The suicide report also discovered that 85 percent of suicides were committed by men and 14 percent were committed by women.

Many health specialists and doctors believe the surge in people taking their own lives can be linked to the aftermath of the Category 4 storm that struck the island on Sept. 20 and the disruption of basic resources like food, water, electricity and housing.

“If someone is in a position where they do not have any electricity, water or a roof over their head, you’re going to either break and sometimes break to the point of committing suicide,” said Alicia Schwartz, a home care nurse from New York City, who volunteered in Puerto Rico. “You can only live so much without the simple necessities of having a roof over your head.”

Hurricane Maria devastated homes, snapped power lines and turned roadways into torrents laden with debris. The catastrophe naturally had a very negative impact on the survivors of the destruction.

Dr. Kenira Thompson, who is in charge of providing mental health services at the Ponce Health Sciences University in Puerto Rico, said there has been an increase in patients since the storm. 

“A lot of patients are presenting severe mental health issues since the storm and the number of patients in our clinic has increased dramatically,” said Thompson. “Not one person that has lived through the storm can't say they weren’t touched by what happened."

It has been over 100 days since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. And the negligence of U.S. government is only making matter worse.

Thumbnail/Banner :  Reuters, Alvin Baez

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